Watch the video below for an introduction to this post and to learn why I’m featuring Jillian for Follow Friday:
1. Love your jewelry! Why did you decide to open up a shop on your own site instead of selling solely on Etsy?
I spent a great deal of time considering whether or not I wanted to open my own e-commerce shop rather than focusing specifically on Etsy after reading a blog post by Megan Auman on Crafting an MBA. In that post, Megan discusses using Etsy as an incubator for your business before taking it to the next level. As a jewelry maker, I knew that Etsy was completely oversaturated with sellers who were directly competing for the same buyers that I was. I was frustrated that any money or effort that I spent in marketing or advertising would send potential customers to Etsy where they could click away from my shop and ultimately buy from someone else, and I really took to heart the idea that I shouldn’t spend money or time on marketing the Etsy brand rather than my own. I was also motivated by the idea of creating more content so that I would be more easily found through search engines, which I felt was nearly impossible with a web existence that relied solely on Etsy. Finally, I wanted to be able to control the experience I provided to my customers through collections and different ways to shop vs. the canned approach that Etsy provides.
2. If others wanted to follow in your footsteps of opening up their own shops, could you give the basic rundown on what they’d need to do. I know there’s a lot that goes into it, but could you list the basic steps to get us thinking about the stuff it entails?
First, I spent time visiting online shops of other jewelry sellers and taking note of the design and options they offered. I researched inexpensive options for creating the site and ultimately purchased a very inexpensive WordPress theme that allowed me to customize it myself. I think a very important aspect to opening the shop was deciding on the look and feel of the site. I chose to stick with a color palette that complemented my blog and existing branding (business cards and tags). I am comfortable with basic graphic design, so I was comfortable with creating my own images and graphics for the site, but I would recommend hiring a graphic designer to anyone who isn’t. I also had to decide how I would handle inventory between Etsy and the online shop and what types of payment I would accept.
I think the most important advice I can give to someone considering opening their own shop is to just start doing it. If you wait for everything to be perfect, it will never happen. My site isn’t super slick and fancy, but it’s clean and neat and gets the job done. I know I will always be updating it and improving it, but for now I have something that works and that I’m proud to show my customers.
3. You’re balancing graduate school with your creative business. How do you manage to get it all done? Any tips for us?
The truth is that I don’t always get it all done. Last semester, I spent about 60 hours a week on a single class project for two months straight, not to mention the work for my other three classes. I had planned to launch my online shop in March, but I postponed doing so until May because I had to focus on school. It was a really tough decision, but I knew that I only have one opportunity to do school properly. I chose to accept slower sales and reduced traffic temporarily so that I could do quality school work. Going into the 2011-2012 school year, I am aware that my Spring semester will be much more difficult than Fall, and I’m planning in advance for those time constraints so my business doesn’t suffer.